Monday, June 25, 2007

Tech-savvy job seekers send 'avatar' to interview

It's now possible to meet with recruiters without actually showing up for a job interview.

Some employers are experimenting with Second Life, the online virtual community owned by San Francisco-based Linden Lab, to screen prospective hires. The program allows job seekers to create a computer-generated image to represent themselves — known as an "avatar" — and communicate with executives of prospective employers as though they were instant-messaging.

A number of big companies put the new medium to a test last month, when recruitment-advertising firm TMP Worldwide Advertising & Communications LLC hosted a virtual job fair with employers such as Hewlett-Packard Co., Microsoft Corp., Verizon Communications Inc. and Sodexho Alliance SA, a food and facilities-management services company. TMP says it will host another virtual job fair in August.

The use of Second Life for recruiting marks yet another way that employers are incorporating popular Web sites into their talent searches. Employers have already set up pages for prospective hires on Facebook, the popular social-networking site, and have posted recruitment videos on Google Inc.'s YouTube, the video-sharing site. Some companies troll for prospective job candidates on News Corp.'s My-Space social-networking site.

The phenomenon of recruitment on Second Life began with smaller, more-progressive companies that already used the site to market their products. These companies occasionally recruited Second Life users who visited their buildings. Now, other employers — even in stodgier industries — are inviting prospective hires who have never used Second Life to show up in the virtual world and meet with their avatar recruiters.

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